I was an adult when I finally came to grips with how often I wasn’t living in the freedom God had for me. I don’t think I understood how prone I was to wander from one prison into another. Although I’ve never been physically imprisoned a single day in my life, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t mentally and spiritually imprisoned. I have come to believe that not living free is an ever-present battle as a result of the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden.
Ever since we decided that we would like to run our lives instead of entrusting that to God we lost our peace. We claimed to be able to handle what God alone can do. Humanity decided to claim that we can do this “life thing” better without God. In fact, we have claimed in a million different ways that we are free and independent. In our humanistic passion for freedom from the God of Truth, we abandoned the only source of freedom that can truly deliver the goods, so to speak.
God declares to me very clearly in His Word what I need to live free.
Then there is life without God. So, we need to create our own freedom.
This Sunday we will be looking at Galatians 3:23-29 and finding that our peace and hope are found in God’s grace. We will see that even in our tendency for rebelling against God’s rule – He is relentless in His pursuit to bring is freedom. God’s love for us is tenacious and He wants us set free from all the prisons we keep locking ourselves up in. Jesus came to “set the captives free” – and that glorious declaration is for us. See ya Sunday!
What would you want to be said to a crowd of people that gathered to hear your thoughts? What would you say to someone that called you and asked for you to help them with finding purpose in their life? How would you respond to the friend that wants to take you out for coffee and talk about the reason you seem different than her other friends?
I ask you these questions because they are being processed by people all the time whether they verbalize them or not. We are all “leading” and “influencing” people. Does that freak you out or excite you? For most of us, it is probably a little of both. As Children of God, we are living as God’s servants and ambassadors in the world today. The Bible says things such as “God is making His appeal through us” or “we are made in the image of God.” Therefore, our lives are to reflect and bring to light who our God is and what He is like.
This Sunday we are going to look at the primary message Peter delivered to the crowd on Pentecost. God had created interest in the hearts of the people that He had brought together and now Peter was going to tell them what their hearts have always been craving. In Acts 2:14a, 22-41 it is very clear that the message Peter is proclaiming can be summarized in one word – Jesus!
Peter shows the people gathered that Jesus is the long awaited One, He is the Savior and the Messiah. He was the One that the prophets spoke of, He is the One that the Great King David exalted – He is the Christ! Peter tells the crowd that Jesus is the Son of God who was sent by our Heavenly Father to set us free and you killed Him. That is a heavy-duty Law burden that was meant not only for the original hearers, but for us as well. Jesus was killed because of us even if we were not physically present. My sins put Jesus on the cross.
But the story doesn’t end with death; the story ends with the end of death. Jesus rose from the dead conquering sin and death. The message for us is that not only is Jesus all-powerful, but that He is also filled with love and grace. And here is the best of the news – His power, forgiveness, mercy and love has come to you! The message that Peter needed to proclaim in that moment is the message of redemption and acceptance found in Jesus; the One we have been seeking whether we know it or not.
So, back to the original questions. What is your message that defines you? What is the “one thing” that is always worth sharing? What does the image of God in us look like when it is showing through? The answer is always the same – JESUS!
See you Sunday,
Today is the 75th anniversary of World War II D-Day; the first day of the Allied Forces invasion of Normandy. If that doesn’t mean much to you – take a moment to read Wikipedia or some other historical summary. It is always good to learn!
As many of you know, I enjoy history in general and WWII history in particular. If you have interests like mine then June 6, 1944 is a very important date. This is a day in history that has impact upon today both regarding freedom and the cost of that freedom. I grew up with stories of the Normandy landing from a neighbor and a great uncle of mine. Both men would never fail to choke up as they told me of the friends that they lost attempting to establish a beachhead.
A common theme of the men I have encountered that fought in WWII and other wars is that they want to live their lives honoring those that lost their lives in combat. They cannot bring them back, but they can at least say thank you as they remember and live the days they have been given. They can also tell the story that shaped who they became and why it matters.
In many ways, this is similar to our perspective following Pentecost. Acts 2 tells about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for all just as Jesus promised through the laying down of His life. He brought us freedom, hope, joy and an incredible story to tell. Jesus invaded the enemy’s territory and conquered everything that could destroy us.
It was 50 days after Easter and the followers of Jesus were gathered in Jerusalem. They were waiting and wondering what God was going to do and how He was going to do it. Then it happened! The Comforter, the Counselor or the Holy Spirit, whichever name you use doesn’t matter, was poured out on the followers of Jesus. The message of Jesus was proclaimed in a way that could be understood by all and people believed! The story of the Savior was going out to everyone; whether they were from near or far. The invitation to a life of freedom and fullness was being given to all – in their own language.
Today we are the ones that have been given the task of “storming the beach” for people imprisoned by fear, pride, loneliness, emptiness and lives that are ultimately going nowhere fast. We are called by our God to lay down our lives for others. This is done by giving our time, our resources and even giving up our preferences so that others can meet the God that loves them.
If this seems too big or too complex of a task for you to accomplish, then you are in the right frame of mind. It is out of this very true perspective, that we clearly appreciate and place our hope in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the outpouring of God’s Spirit into His people. The guidance and power we need lives within us. We humbly step out in faith and reach into the lives of our families or friends because we are following Jesus.
This Pentecost event matters to us today and that is what we are considering on Sunday. See you then!
Today is our spiritual D-day!
This Sunday we wrap up our six-week series in the Revelation of John. We have largely been finding during this time a combination of comfort and confrontation. John has brought the church through all the ages to a place of confrontation, as we seem to continually need to battle against things such as apathy, false worship and selfishness. But at the very same time John is confronting, he is comforting us with God’s promises and a picture of our final eternal home.
This Sunday we will look at the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22. In this passage we are brought into the imagery of heaven and the prayer of the church to once again be united with Jesus. The prayer is very similar to the one we have prayed at the dinner table as long as I can remember – “Come, Lord Jesus!” I grew up with it and we still pray it today.
It took me many years to learn the comprehensiveness of these three simple words. As an “old guy” I now operate with that prayer as a constant cry of my heart. Now, on one level it is the prayer of the Church to once again look upon the face of Jesus just like I can look upon your face on Sunday. In other words, it is asking Jesus to come and take me to my eternal home. This is always a great and comforting prayer.
Then there is the “Come, Lord Jesus!” prayer that is asking for Jesus to invade every moment of my life in this world before I get to my eternal home. This cry of my soul is based on my desperation, as well as the hope filled promise that I am loved by my creator. This is a position of my mind and will that recognize how good Jesus is and how much He loves me.
Come to us, Lord Jesus! COME!
This life is filled with lots and lots of really good stuff. For instance, my daughter is marrying a man in ten days that I trust to love her, I visited with a great friend late into the evening last night and I listened to the beautiful sounds of thunder last night as I comfortably drifted in and out of sleep. I could go on and on! I have no doubt that most of you could also easily create a list of good things in your lives as well.
I love dwelling upon enjoyable things that make me smile, laugh and in general, feel good about life. It feeds my soul to see what is beautiful, good and true. As a believer in the Creator God, I believe the love of God and His presence can be found every day.
But then there is the other reality of today – we live in a broken and fallen world. Sin and death are real. I will face enemies and situations that are just simply too much for me to handle on my own. Our souls cry out for something more than this world has to offer. There is no doubt, we are not in heaven yet!
This Sunday we continue our look into some of the key passages from the book of Revelation. The vision that God gave to John meets us in our present situation but also brings us into a hopeful future. We are given strength and hope for today. While at the same time, experiencing an anticipation and expectation for a perfect day to come. We live in God’s presence today and then we look forward to the day we will actually gaze upon the face of Jesus. What a day that will be!
Here is our text for this Sunday’s message from Revelation 21.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
In God’s perfect love and power, He can move into our present situation in a way that brings glimpses of heaven to earth. Through His Spirit and His Word, He invades our lives even today with aspects of the eternal joy and hope of heaven.
Living in the hope of heaven,
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
For the past 16 years I have lived out the blessing of being your pastor. It has been a joy and a privilege. It has been filled with laughs and tears as we simply lived our lives together. I had personal expectations and even hopes, that this would be the position I would hold until that final phase - “retirement.” But as most of you know, it was announced last Sunday that I would be moving to a new ministry area in a few months.
I wanted to pass along some basic information on what I will be doing. Here is an overview of my new position based on some of the information in my letter of call. I would greatly appreciate your ongoing prayers as I step into this role in August.
The North American Mission [NAM] Director leads the overall North American disciple-making mission, overseeing the priorities of congregational vitality and church planting.
The NAM Director will be responsible to:
• Advance the CLB disciple-making movement by providing day to day leadership and resourcing of congregational vitality
• Define vision for and a definition of CLB disciple-making within our theology and missionary character, which will serve to clarify and animate the church as a disciple-making movement
• Seek and call (with Synodical President) a North American Mission Associate Director who will oversee a CLB church planting initiative (with strategic plan)
• Define and develop a NAM disciple-making philosophy of ministry and strategic plan, including the development of resources and strategy for:
a. Assessment of congregational health
b. Teaching resources for congregational vitality
c. Training opportunities for congregational vitality including workshops, webinars, conferences (CLB and other), etc.
d. Providing cohort collaboration of pastors and congregations for congregational vitality
e. Provide or identify coaching resources for congregational vitality
• Communicate vision for and work with the Office of the President, Lutheran Brethren Seminary, and congregations to prioritize pastoral and lay leadership identity and modeling of disciple-making
I will be claiming the following words from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi for Oak Hill, Barb and myself during this period of change and opportunity.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I love spring!
The green, the increasing warmth, buds popping everywhere and rain instead of snow. Another thing I thoroughly enjoy is the chorus of birds greeting me as I head to work each morning. I walk out the door, thankfully not hearing the crunch of snow under my feet, but the sweet chirps from the trees above. It truly warms my spring soul.
Nature is once again declaring the “Easter Effect.” There is a new beginning. Here we go! For some reason, each spring brings me a sense of expectancy, a feeling that even in the midst of the world’s turmoil and brokenness, God’s ways will always prevail. Spring comes after winter, just as God planned. The trees and flowers that once looked dead, now will proclaim beautifully the glory of their creator just by being what God created them to be. I find myself naturally joining in with David’s words in the 19th Psalm.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Isn’t nature an amazing declaration of God, His design and His power? As much as I enjoy nature, on its own it can never provide an answer for my greatest problems of sin and death. I need something more, something far more! This Sunday we continue our six-week series in the Revelation of John. This week we will be looking at the fifth chapter where the Lamb of God opens the scroll that makes Him worthy of all praise. This heavenly scene could be argued to be the real reason all of nature rejoices in the spring.
Jesus, the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah, has opened the way to life for each of us. Because of Easter we are given a glimpse of heaven and the eternal this week as we consider Revelation 5. So, this spring I invite you to enjoy spring with me and everyone else, but I also invite you to consider the main thing to celebrate – Jesus has conquered sin and death once and for all. There is no power in heaven or on earth that can separate you from the love of God found in Jesus Christ (Romans 8).
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
Just a few weeks back you were given the opportunity to fund a micro-loan to start a well drilling business. This loan would create a sustainable business to fund the ongoing ministry of Pastor Malloum and his son, Ezekiel’s missionary work to the Fulbe people of Chad. Oak Hill has adopted the Fulbe, therefore we are called to pray and support efforts to share the Gospel with this group that is just beginning to hear for the very first time of Jesus love for them.
It excites me to no end that you have taken this adoption seriously. You have continually expressed interest and excitement ever since this relationship was formed. But the way that you answered the call for this opportunity to support this evangelistic well drilling business has communicated clearly that you want our “Overflowing Hope” to be seen and used in God’s Kingdom.
The hope was that we could raise a total of $7400 for the micro-loan and the ongoing missionary support around the loan itself. My dream was that in the two weeks of envelopes in the bulletins and a focused communication push we might be able to raise somewhere between $5000-$6000. I knew that we were excited about what God is calling us to do with the Fulbe, but I underestimated that excitement. The money that has come in for the support of this project over the past few weeks is $16,500.
The GOING Team will be researching and processing other funding opportunities to additional “projects” that will share the Gospel because of your generosity. They will be updating us in the next few months on how our funds that were raised are going to be used to further God’s Kingdom. I look forward to praying with you that God will bless Ezekiel and Malloum’s well drilling business as well as the projects our GOING team will identify in the near future.
Thank you so much for your generosity!
This Sunday’s message will address God’s desire that we see things the same way that He does. We will learn from Paul in Philippians 3 how wonderful it is to know what matters most. We will see that the Gospel alone is able to deliver what our souls are searching for. As we connect to others and give of our lives and resources we will be blessed by our God. We will experience true joy, peace and a sense of fulfillment that comes when we walk with God.
Let’s enjoy the walk together,
Early this morning I woke up to a nagging sense of angst. I don’t like it when I feel that way. Even though it was earlier than I wanted to get up I knew there was no more sleep to be had for me. Do you ever experience this type of thing? It can be work related, relational, financial or a million other reasons, but the result is the same – I do not feel at peace!
The things in my world that have me writing about this problem are quite inconsequential when compared to big issues like having a child with cancer, dealing with a broken marriage or a deep depression that leaves people barely hanging on. Even though I can be thankful I am not personally processing any of three burdens I just listed, it doesn’t mean my lack of peace isn’t real.
Don’t you like when things just feel right? I sure do! It takes me back to being a kid and just enjoying the day that was playing out before me. I knew my parents loved me and I had a place. It seemed so easy for me to just be Nick and trust God with the big stuff.
Humanity craves peace and being right with the world. God made us that way. So, this morning I need to own the fact that my sense of “offness” is a combination of a world that has rebelled against God and on the personal front, my clearly imperfect trust in God. But here is the really good news in it all – I am a Child of God because that is what He made me. My Father in Heaven has declared to me that all is good between us – Jesus brought peace and reconciliation to my broken and rebellious soul.
The need for peace and reconciliation is what our text and message are about this Sunday. Paul also makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 5 that once God accomplishes this in our lives, He wants us to let others know about it.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
God invites us to do this in our homes and all through the world. We will be sending a check out in the next couple weeks that will connect us to the work in Chad being done by Pastor Malloum, Rachel, Ezekiel and Aline. The micro-loan we send will be used by this family of missionary pastors to drill wells, bring water to villages and open doors for reconciliation with God to be proclaimed. They are Christ’s ambassadors along with us to these Fulbe communities that have never heard the message of the love of God that comes in Jesus Christ.
My morning cry for peace that I mentioned earlier serves as a reminder that we are called to be Jesus’ messengers of a peace that is so comprehensive it includes a peace with God, each other and life itself. Let it begin with me!
May we be about God’s Peace and Reconciliation,
This past Sunday Barb and I had the opportunity to share about of our recent trip to Chad. We showed lots of pictures and tried to talk fast. We are looking into the possibility of a Q&A time to go a bit deeper with some of you and give another chance for people who were unable to be here Sunday to learn more about Oak Hill’s ministry reaching into Chad, Africa.
I mentioned Sunday our next Overflowing Hope Project that Oak Hill will be funding. Some of the details are below and I would be more than happy to discuss this with anyone if you have additional questions. We will be given a chance to support this project with a special gift over the next couple of weeks. There will be special envelopes in the bulletins on Sunday or you can just designate funds in the memo line of a check.
Oak Hill Overflowing Hope support of the Fulbe mission:
I am so very excited that we get to be a part of what God is doing in Chad. Please pray for the Fulbe people and consider a special gift to deliver the Gospel to those who have never heard of God’s love for them in Jesus!
Thanks for caring and giving,
Pastor Nick Mundis